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Sandiganbayan junks ill-gotten wealth case on behest loans vs. Marcos Sr., others

The Sandiganbayan has junked an ill-gotten case filed against the late President Ferdinand Marcos and several others after the anti-graft court ruled that the government prosecutors failed to present sufficient evidence.

In a 156-page decision dated February 21, the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division junked Civil Case 0024 which alleges the late Marcos, his wife Imelda, Luis Yulo, Roberto Benedicto, Nicolas Dehesa, Jose Tengco Jr, Rafael Sison, Cesar Zalamea and Don Ferry of securing enormous loans from state-run financial institutions in favor of companies they control.

The case also alleged that the defendants obtained, under favored and very liberal terms, huge loans from the Government Service Insurance System in favor of Philippine Integrated Meat Company (PIMECO), which is a corporation beneficially held and/or controlled by Sabido and the other defendants, and lastly, that Sabido installed himself as Chairman of the Board of Lianga Bay Logging Co. (Lianga), a domestic corporation that owned and operated a lumber concession in Lianga, Surigao del Sur, and performed acts of depredation against the best interest of the lumber workers.

In its ruling, the anti-graft court said "that the plaintiff (the Philippine government) failed to prove by preponderant evidence that the properties alleged in the complaint are ill-gotten and/or were beneficially owned and controlled by former President Marcos and his family."

Sandiganbayan's ruling also stated that the state prosecutors relied heavily on the testimony of Rolando Gapud, which the court concluded as hearsay because he did not take the witness stand.

"Plaintiff (Philippine government) relied heavily on the affidavit of Rolando Gapud wherein it said that serving as financial advisor of the former President, he had personal knowledge that the latter used his close business associate Yulo as his dummy in YKR and PIMECO. The material allegations in the amended complaint were corroborated by the subject affidavit. However, Gapud was not presented in Court to testify on the matters alleged," the Sandiganbayan said.

"In a replete number of cases, the Supreme Court ruled that failure to put the affiant on the witness stand is fatal to the case as it renders the affidavit inadmissible under the hearsay rule," the Sandiganbayan added.

Government prosecutors had argued that Gapud’s testimony should be given full credence as it was acknowledged before the Philippine Consular Office in Hong Kong.

The Sandiganbayan, however, disagreed.

"The Court is not convinced. While it is true that the affidavit was notarized, the general rule is that affidavits are classified as hearsay evidence, unless affiants are placed on the witness stand," it said.

"In view of the foregoing, this case for reversion, reconveyance, and accounting against defendants Peter A. Sabido, Luis A. Yulo, Nicolas Dehesa, Ferdinand E. Marcos, Rafael Sison, and Don M. Ferry, is dismissed for failure of the plaintiff to prove by preponderance of evidence," the Sandiganbayan added.

The court also lifted the sequestration orders against Lianga Bay Logging Co. and Yulo King Ranch. 

Civil Case 0024 is one of the several ill-gotten wealth cases filed against the Marcos family after the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution.  —VAL/RSJ/VBL, GMA Integrated News